Watching TV and Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and death linked to watching TV

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Even if the TV is your source for news, or just a simple way to relax at the end of a long workday, you may do better to avoid the tube altogether. Watching too much TV could end up hurting your health.

People who spend more time in front of a TV screen have a higher risk of getting diabetes and heart disease, or of dying from any cause. Just two hours of TV per day can affect your health.

"Don't watch so much TV."

It is all to common for Americans to watch TV for long, extended periods of time. Past research has linked extended TV viewing to diabetes, heart disease, and death.

Anders Grøntved, M.P.H., M.Sc., from the University of Southern Denmark, and Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, wanted to shed more light on the links between TV, disease, and death by looking through past studies on the topic.

They found that people's risk for type 2 diabetes increased by 20 percent for every two hours of TV they watched per day. Their risk for heart disease increased by 15 percent for every two hours of TV per day. Watching TV for two hours a day increased people's risk of death from all causes by 13 percent.

As Dr. Hu told Reuters, these findings have a simple message: watching less TV is a good way to avoid inactivity and lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

TV isn't the direct cause of these risks. The real culprit is the kind of lifestyle that TV watching encourages. People who sit in front of a TV screen are exercising less, and most likely eating unhealthy foods, Dr. Hu noted.

To get their results, Dr. Hu and Grøntved looked at eight past studies that examined the relationship between TV viewing and the risk of disease and death. Four of those studies had results on type 2 diabetes, four reported on heart disease, and three reported on death from all causes.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 20, 2011
Last Updated:
June 20, 2011